Weekly Column

Anzac Day is an opportunity for all Australians to come together, whatever their age or background and wherever they may be, to recognise our important wartime history and the stories of those involved.
Australians have served with distinction in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations in many locations around the world – from the muddy trenches of the Western Front, to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, through to the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan today.
I encourage people of the Hunter electorate to attend an Anzac Day service next Wednesday to remember the contribution of those in wars past, and also to pay tribute to the thousands of men and women who are serving us today.
This year Anzac Day was especially significant as it marked 70 years since the Second World War reached Australian shores.
Seventy years ago more than 240 Australians lost their lives in the bombing of Darwin. This year also marks 70 years since the Papuan campaign which included the battles along the Kokoda Track, at Milne Bay and on the beachheads of Buna, Gona and Sanananda. More than 2,300 Australians lost their lives during this campaign.
For information about Anzac Day including historical information, education resources, or details on how to organise a local service visit www.dva.gov.au/anzac
The Government's new Wage Connect Subsidy is having great success helping long term unemployed Australians living in the Hunter electorate to find work.
Since Wage Connect began this year, 47 people in our community have found a job – giving them greater financial independence and the ability to provide for themselves and their families.
I’ve learned from meeting with local residents in my community that once you’ve been unemployed for a long period of time, it can be tremendously difficult to find a new job. This new Government subsidy provides an incentive for employers to give someone who has been living on income support for many years the chance to get off the dole and into paid work.
Wage Connect pays a wage subsidy to employers who take on and retain eligible job seekers. The subsidy of around $5700— the equivalent of the average rate of Newstart Allowance over 26 weeks—helps offset wage and training costs for the first six months of the person’s employment.
Wage Connect supports jobs for people who have been on income support payments for at least the last two years; with little or no recent work experience.
It’s great to see that this program is also delivering jobs for mature age job seekers, people who are homeless, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and job seekers with disability.
I want to congratulate each and every one of these newly employed residents, who have had their lives and the lives of their families transformed by this Government initiative. We know that the benefits of having a good job extend far beyond collecting a fortnightly pay cheque and I hope that all of these Hunter residents find their work fulfilling and rewarding.
Job seekers interested in participating in Wage Connect should speak to their employment services provider. Interested employers who would like to learn more about Wage Connect can visit www.deewr.gov.au/wageconnectsubsidy or contact a local employment services provider on 13 17 15.
I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.
Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.
To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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